How I Shed 25 Pounds After Changing My Breath
Losing weight wasn’t even my main goal
I was pretty typical, eating a typical American diet. When my metabolism slowed in my later twenties, I quickly gained a spare tire. No surprise, there.
I adjusted my diet and exercised more, but it wasn’t until I learned how to breathe better that the tire finally vanished.
This was a surprise, as I started doing breathing exercises as a way to relax and meditate between work sessions. I had no idea that better breathing brought many other benefits.
You see, our breath does more than feed us oxygen, how we breathe affects our mind and body in countless ways.
I first stumbled on a guided breathing exercise while looking to add music to a playlist. I gave it a try and was … well, changed.
I’d gone through most of my life breathing through my mouth, with shallow breaths into my upper chest, often rapidly. This is known as over-breathing, when we take in too much oxygen.
Breath coach to Olympic athletes and author, Patrick McKeown, says that over-breathing means less oxygen reaches the cells and organs. That’s because it takes carbon dioxide — that air we breathe out— to release oxygen into our blood. Over-breathing reduces carbon-dioxide. This can lead to all kinds of issues, including less energy, dry mouth, and even anxiety.
For the First Time, I Focused on My Breath
Breathing exercises showed me what I was missing in every breath. I started doing them regularly. I’d hit play on my phone, close my eyes, and meditate on my breathing.
I was instructed to take slow breaths into my abdomen (making the belly expand like a balloon). There’d be a short pause between the inhale and exhale, and the whole exercise lasted about seven minutes.
Afterward, I felt transformed. What happened was deep, repetitive belly breaths stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a fancy term for the “rest-and-digest” response.
I felt the same pleasure and endorphin release that I would’ve from eating a bunch of junk food, from zero-calorie air! I was blown away.
The calming affect of slow, deep breaths meant less stress, which also meant less stress-eating.
Not only that, but focusing on the breath took me out of my own mental chatter. I became more aware of sensations in my body, and how I felt after eating certain foods.
This made it easier to discern which foods were harming or helping me, giving me more discipline to avoid the bad stuff.
The added oxygen in my cells meant more overall energy, mental clarity and a boost in my metabolism. This inspired me to exercise more. And I’d often finish with a breathing meditation instead of chowing down on carb-o-licious sugary foods.
People started to say I was looking younger. But it wasn’t until I stepped onto a scale that I realized I was shedding serious pounds. The spare tire was quickly shrinking to the down to more of a bike-sized tire instead of an SUV.
After more months of breath work combined with a better diet and exercise, the tire was gone.
So what’s the science behind it?
Deep belly breaths flex the muscles of our abdomen. The extra oxygen, delivered from our lower lungs creates a strong digestive fire.
Incredibly, oxygen actually attaches to fat cells and splits them into water and carbon dioxide, which we exhale. That’s right, better breathing means we exhale more fat.
Who doesn’t love something where the sides effects are actually fringe benefits?
But belly breathing is just part of the story. The ideal breath comes through your nose, not your mouth.
You see, breathing through your nose filters, moistens and warms the air for your lungs, a boost to the immune system.
While adjusting your breathing isn’t a magic pill for weight loss, it can accelerate metabolism, tone the abdomen, and lead to a transformative process encouraging exercise and better eating. This sets off a chain reaction of wellness in the body and mind.
Better breathing is a true lifestyle change, something you can do anywhere, anytime, for free.
How to Adjust Your Breath To Lose Weight
- Breathe through your nose whenever possible. This engages the lower lungs to increase oxygen levels, which convert fat into water and carbon dioxide.
- Take slow breaths into your belly, which tones your abdominal muscles while boosting metabolism. A tip when starting: place one hand on your chest and another on your belly. As you breathe, the hand on your belly should expand and contract while the hand on you chest stays still.
- Before and after a meal, sit down and do a round of conscious belly breaths. It can be for one minute, or five or twenty. You’ll actually feel your digestion stimulated and your metabolism kicking into gear.
I breathe into my belly through my nose whenever possible, whether working, exercising or resting. The hard part can be remembering, but when I do, it keeps me in the present moment while boosting metabolism. I guess the best things in life really are free!
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